Sunday, January 9, 2011

Top Ten Reasons for Owning (Loving) Alpacas

This is my fourth post in the series about the benefits of owning alpacas.  Alpacas give a  great supply of fantastic garden fertilizer in manageable quantities (and right now, a little voice is asking me how my life got to the point that I am posting about poop to the world wide web - but it's a happy voice, so that's okay).

I don't know the scientific analysis on alpaca manure, but if you are interested, google it.  When it comes to gardening, I'm just beginning to learn.  I do know that it has done wonders for my lawn and my gardening relatives think it makes a huge difference in their garden.

Manure management is a great concern to most livestock farms.  Compared to other livestock farms, alpaca producers have a very manageable amount of manure to deal with.  Alpacas are about 150 lbs, only eat 2 percent of their body weight and can process it very efficiently.

If you are wondering (admit it, you are), alpaca poop looks a lot like white-tail deer poop…or like a pile of rabbit-droppings (granted,  BIG rabbits).  Picture a pile of little round beans.

Here's a funny story.  I had a woman email me, that she wanted to bring her young son out to see an alpaca, as they’d been researching them on the internet, and would I allow them to come for a visit to the farm to see the alpacas.  I said sure, and later the car pulls up and out pops the family…mom in open toe sandals.  It was a lazy day and I didn’t have much else to do, so I found them some boots and did a whole farm tour.  They were here for about an hour, when the woman said…”You must have a lot of rabbits around here….”.  (I am not kidding.)

We have a poop-vacuum.  (not many people can say this...)  This is actually a big lawn-vacuum that is used by golf courses to clean their greens.  We modified it a bit and can use it to suck up the manure beans when the pile is dry.  We end up with something with the consistency of peat moss and it shovels out great and without a smell.  This stuff made my lawn a beautiful green, when it used to be an ugly shade of parched beige-green.

If you’ve been reading my blog for sometime, you will also know that I am the proud owner of a manure-spreader (The ghost of my former twenty-five year-old self is aghast that I just said that!). 
You can read about my manure-spreader here.
We use the tractor to scoop up the bigger winter piles and dump it into the manure-spreader.  Then the spreader is pulled by the truck and flings the manure around the pasture to fertilize the soil.

Some alpaca producers sell their alpaca manure.  I heard of one enterprising fellow who build a cement-lined box below a grate, and then trained his alpacas to poop over the grate.  He sold enough of the clean manure to pay for all of his alpaca feed.  Mind you, he lived an hour out of 'the big city'...where lots of folk will view driving an hour to pay a farmer ten bucks for a bag of poop as a sightseeing day-trip out of the city.

I haven't got to the point of marketing poop.  Really, I've been called the "alpaca lady", and more recently, the "egg lady"....I am not ready to be called the "poop lady".

Who knew that I could write such a discourse on farm poop?


Azure Islands Designs said...

You made me smile Norma... :0)
Your post was actually very interesting & informative...I enjoy learning how others work/live! So... you won't see me sticking my nose in the air over your "poop" story!


Shari said...

Just letting you know that I dropped by your blog for the first time ever after reading through the long list of introductions on Cold Antler Farms' blog. Hello from Michigan!
I would love to own alpacas some day. Right now it is just a dream. In the mean time, I have bookmarked your blog so I can live vicariously through you.
Thanks for sharing your life.

Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Heather - you are pretty Real...didn't think you'd be put off by the topic ;)
Shari - thanks for dropping in and speaking up - nice to know that I have new readers. I love following Cold Antler Farns blog as well.

Wooly Knits n Bits said...

It's great that nature gives back to nature! The dog poop I pick up around here is good for nothing and it smells!